Lowry: Monies 'tax compliant'

Independent TD Michael Lowry has responded to media reports of an alleged undeclared payment by him more than a decade ago by saying that the monies paid were properly recorded and were fully tax compliant.Photograph: Bryan O'Brien

Independent TD Michael Lowry has responded to media reports of an alleged undeclared payment by him more than a decade ago by saying that the monies paid were properly recorded and were fully tax compliant.Photograph: Bryan O'Brien

Sun, Feb 24, 2013, 00:00

Independent TD Michael Lowry has responded to media reports of an alleged undeclared payment by him more than a decade ago by saying that the monies paid were properly recorded and were fully tax compliant.

The Sunday Independent today published the transcript of what it said was a 13 minute telephone conversation in 2004 between Mr Lowry and Kevin Phelan, a property consultant based in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

In the transcript Mr Lowry, a deputy for Tipperary North, refers to a payment of "200 or 250" (presumably €200-250,000 or £200-250,000) paid by him to Mr Phelan. Mr Lowry is quoted as saying he never declared the payment which was made.

However, today the former Fine Gael minister insisted that the payment in question was fully recorded, accounted for and was fully in compliance with all tax obligation.

According to the transcript, part of Mr Lowry’s purpose in making the call was establish the payment was not connected with an entity called Glebe Trust, which Mr Phelan described as his family trust. He wanted confirmation from Mr Phelan that he [Mr Lowry] had nothing to do with Glebe Trust.

The transcript of the recording suggests that Mr Lowry was concerned if the payment was connected with Glebe Trust, then it would look “as if I had a beneficial interest in [the] f***** Doncaster [Rovers site], which I had not".

Transactions surrounding the purchase of the Doncaster Rovers site formed part of the inquiries of the Moriarty Tribunal into the business dealings and connections between Mr Lowry and the media and communications mogul Denis O’Brien, whose company won the competition for Ireland’s second mobile phone licence when Mr Lowry was the minister for communications.

“Now, the 200 – the 250 – that I gave you, I never paid that directly, I never put that through my books or my account or anything,” Mr Lowry purportedly told Mr Phelan in the course of the conversation.

Mr Phelan was due to appear as a witness at Moriarty Tribunal hearings but decided not to travel from Northern Ireland to the hearings. The Sunday Independent stated yesterday that Mr Phelan had handed the recording of the 2004 telephone conversation to the newspaper.

However, in a statement released last night, Mr Lowry said that the payment referred to in the Sunday Independent was made by his company Garruda limited on his behalf.

“That transaction was properly recorded and accounted for in the records and accounts of Garuda Limited. The payment referred to is fully tax compliant,” he said.

In his statement, Mr Lowry refers to the “alleged taped telephone conversation”, neither confirming nor denying the authenticity of the recording.

“My business dealings have been the subject of intense scrutiny over a prolonged period leading to several false and inaccurate reviews,” he said.

He continues: "The Register at the UK Land Registry and company records clearly show that I never had any direct or indirect shareholding or beneficial interest in Doncaster Rovers or its associated companies. I also confirm that I never had any material or beneficial interest in ‘Glebe Trust’."

Mr Lowry was not available for further comment today. His statement said he had not been contactable since Thursday as he had been travelling over the weekend. The dial tone on his phone indicated that he is abroad today.

Fianna Fáil communications spokesman Michael Moynihan tonight called on Mr Lowry to "quickly clarify" the issues arising from the story.

Michael Lowry statement in full:

I refer to the Sunday Independent extensive coverage of an alleged taped telephone conversation. My business dealings have been the subject of intense scrutiny over a prolonged period leading to several false and inaccurate reviews.

The payment referred to in the Sunday Independent was made by my company, Garuda Limited, on my behalf. That transaction was properly recorded and accounted for in the records and accounts of Garuda Limited. The payment referred to is fully tax compliant.

The Register at the UK Land Registry and company records clearly show that I never had any direct or indirect shareholding or beneficial interest in Doncaster Rovers or its associated companies. I also confirm that I never had any material or beneficial interest in ‘Glebe Trust’.

Please note that I received no documentation on this matter before I left my Dáil office on Thursday. I was un-contactable as I was travelling over the weekend. My constituency office is closed on a Saturday. The stake out at my property on Saturday and the incursion onto my private property was pointless.